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Oil, Natural Gas, Propane, Heat Pump, Ductless....What Should I Do ?


This is the most common thing that I am asked. "What is the best way to heat my home?"

The answer is simple......kind of.

What you should be asking is "how much heat do I get for my money?"

The first thing you need to understand is how heat is measured. We use the term btu's in this business when we are talking about heat.

How much heat is 1 btu? 1 btu is equal to the heat given off by a lit match. A typical furnace in a residential home in State College produces about 75,000 btu's per hour.

One Gallon of oil is capable of producing 135,000 btu's of heat

One Gallon of Propane is capable of producing 91,000 btu's of heat

One Cubic Foot of Natural Gas makes about 1,075 btu's of heat

One Watt of Electricity produces 3.4 btu's of heat

Simple Right? (Ha!)

So here's what we do to make it simple.

Rather than talking in terms of two variables (quantity of heat and unit of measure) lets just figure out what it costs to make 1 million btu's of heat. A typical home in PA uses about 100 million btu's of heat a year, so this makes it easy

First, lets look at Oil...

Remember 1 Gallon makes 135,000 btu's

BUT, a typical oil furnace is only 75% efficient

So, we only get about 100,000 btu's out of that gallon of oil

So we divide 10,000,000 (the amount of heat a home uses per year) by 100,000 which is 1000

1000 gallons of oil at $3.50 per gallon equals $3,500

Oil at $3.50 a gallon will cost you $3500 to heat your home

Oil at $4.50 a gallon will cost you $4500

You get the idea - oil is expensive!

Now lets look at Propane...

Propane furnaces are typically 90% efficient and a gallon of propane makes 91,000 btu's of heat

Propane also fluctuates in price but lets use $3.50 a gallon to compare it to oil.

We will get 82,000 btu's from a gallon of Propane

100,000,000 divided by 82,000 equals 1219

1219 gallons of propane at $3.50 per gallon equals $4,266

At 3.50 per gallon, propane will cost you $4,266

At 4.50 per gallon, propane will cost you $5,485

***Last winter oil and propane were both $5.00 per gallon! OUCH. The volotile prices of oil and propane make them a bad choice for your budget. Sure, oil is cheap now, mostly beacause the OPEC nations are dropping prices to discourage investment in US Shale Gas - but you know that it wont last.

What about Natural Gas? (The short version now since you're so smart)

Natural Gas goes for about .95 cents per Therm, which is 10,000 btu's, and a typical natural gas furnace is about 95% efficient.

So, it takes about 1052 therms of Natural Gas to heat a typical home

At .95 per therm that's only $1000

Yes, you can switch to Natural Gas and save 67% on your heating bill - depending on the price of oil.

How about Heat Pumps

This is kind of confusing...

You see, heat pumps have a lot of variance in their efficiency. They take the available heat in the outdoor air and put it in your house - it's actually the air conditioning process in reverse.

You get what you pay for with heat pumps. Cheap heat pumps deliver less and less heat as it gets colder. This is true of all heat pumps, but it varys tremendously. Cheap ones are the worst for this.

For example - there are hp's that produce 25% of their rated output at 25 degrees, and there are heat pumps that produce 95% of their rated output at 25 degrees.

Technology is the determining factor, and the more technology you buy, the better the rated output.

Here's how they rate:

1. Single Speed - HIgh and Low efficiency

2. Two Speed

3. Multiple Speed

4. Variable Speed

There's more!...(I know that this is confusing.)

Heat pumps use a back up source of heat to make up for what they lose in rated output when it's cold outside. Makes sense right? You have to do something to make up for that loss. This is usually an electric heat package.

The electric heat package comes on when the thermostat tells it to, because the heat pump is not able to keep up with the heat that your house is losing on a cold day.

All of this makes it very difficult to walk you through the math like we did in the examples above for oil and gas.

Lets take a typical single speed Medium Efficiency Heat Pump.

(These number comes from an online energy calculator that is made by Bryant for heating contractors.)

A high efficiency heat pump with electric backup heat will cost the typical homeowner in PA about $1100 a year to operate at .16 cents per killowatt hour (the current price in PA). The thing to remember here is that unlike oil and propane systems, you get air conditioning with a heat pump at the price of about $350 a year!

So, a high efficiency heat pump will heat and cool your house for about $1450 in electricity a year.

Call or Text JBN Mechanical to find out how you can start saving today!

814 240 2455

john@jbnmechanical.com

Peace!

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